CES 2019 to Showcase Tech Impacts Throughout Everyday Life

It’s two days before CES® 2019 officially opens so things are quiet, right? Not so fast!

Media events started today, meaning lines, crowded rooms – – and the beginning of the information flow from the greatest show in tech.

More than that, really, as CES 2019 looks more than ever to give us insight into the world of our everyday lives of tomorrow.

If Walt Disney were designing EPCOT right now, he would be at CES learning about the innovations that will define our world of tomorrow.

We hear much about technology trends today, but saw one event that may be one of the biggest signs to come out of CES 2019.

Proctor and Gamble, maybe the name most associated with everyday life, is exhibiting at CES for the first time and held a press event today. That a traditional consumer products company, one we would not associate with technology, is here truly speaks to the connection between the innovation on display at CES and our lives.

Tech Trending in Our Everyday Lives

Sure, technology has always impacted our everyday live and CES has always been a showcase for tech such as TVs, computers, audio systems, appliances, and more.

Things are different this year, though, with the innovations on display and being discussed at CES addressing more areas of our lives than we have seen previously.

Here are but a few of the areas of impact we saw on display on the first day of CES activities.

Healthcare

Yes, technology innovations in healthcare have been part of CES for some time, but this year they are addressing more and broader areas of our lives, with more of the solutions intended for consumers rather than provider of care. These are just some of the topics addressed.

  • There is more than ever before about mental health, a needed focus area of late in healthcare overall.
  • Innovation addressing brain health, with recognition of the devastating impacts of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Telehealth, changing the way care is providing and increasing access to care for many.
  • Advances in home health devices, making it possible for more seniors and others with chronic illness to live independently.

Even Smarter Homes

For years we have been seeing and hearing how many aspects of our interactions with our homes have been changing as they become connected to us digitally. That continues to advance.

This year, though, the smart home focus seems to be turning more to devices communicating directly with each other, reducing the need for human interaction to provide us benefits.

Sure, some will see these advances, with our homes becoming not just connected but intelligent, as unnecessary conveniences and even intrusive, but for many of our senior loved ones these advances will mean the ability to live independently even longer.

Digital Privacy and Security

Our increasingly connected world has resulted in the creation of more data on us in the last few years than has been generated in all the year that have come before.

Unfortunately the abundance of data has led to well-founded concerns about how that data is used and how secure it is in the hands of those collecting and keeping it.

This slide, part of the “CES 2019 Trends to Watch” presentation from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) shows the interaction of many of our new technologies and how we see them in the marketplace, with part of the impact on us being our security and privacy in the digital world.

Continuing Evolution of Technology

Once concept we found particularly interesting was the idea put forth by the CTA that we are entering a new age of technology, the data age.

Thinking about it, we do take being connected to each other and the world around us by technology for granted. We don’t, for example, think about our broadband internet connections until they are not performing as expected or even not keeping us connected at all.

With everything and (hopefully) everyone being connected, technology will be defined more and more by the data about us and our lives that is being created and how that data is being used to make our lives better.

Oh, yes, and how we are protecting that data from being misused to our detriment.

One Product to Remember

There were MANY things that caught our eyes as we moved from table to table in CES Unveiled today. Learning about each was like trying to work in a room full of squirrels, as there was always something in the corner of our eyes.

We encountered one innovative product that we think will be of interested to family caregivers with loved ones who have chronic heart failure. You may be surprised to hear it is a t-shirt! No, this is not just any t-shirt, but a true wearable.

Chronolife has developed a wearable solution that discretely tracks patient data while they go about their everyday lives. Through the user’s smartphone, data is sent to the healthcare provider, who is able to monitor patients in between office visits.

Tracking alone would be a meaningful solution, but Chronolife’s wearable goes further, with predictive capabilities that allow for action to be taken before the next event occurs.

This device will not be available directly to consumers, but will be prescribed by healthcare providers along with instructions for its use. By making family caregivers aware of it, we hope to provide information about a potential solution you and your senior loved one can discuss with their doctor.

More to Come from CES 2019

The half day of media activities at CES 2019 whet our appetites even more for what is to come.

We look forward to sharing more with you throughout the event and afterward.

For real-time updates on items we feel are noteworthy for family caregivers, follow our tweets on @SrCareCorner.

We are CES Ready!

 

CES 2019 Preview — Planning Complete (Sort of)

CES® 2019 is just about upon us and our planning for the event is complete!

Well, mostly anyway.

You know that old saying, “planning the trip is half the fun”? With CES, planning the trip is half the stress.

With so much to see and do at CES, with the 2019 version looking even bigger than ever before, deciding what to do with the limited time there is very stressful.

The other half of the stress will, of course, come next week, when we try to get it all done. With nearly 200,000 other people at CES trying to see it all themselves, just moving can be a challenge at times.

CES Challenge by the Numbers

The challenge of planning for coverage of CES and then carrying out that plan is the sheer scale of the event. Numbers alone don’t tell the story, but these will give you some idea.

There are over 2.75 million square feel of exhibits — that’s 57 football fields — spread over multiple locations in Las Vegas. That’s a lot of walking, shuttles, rideshares, and rides on the monorail. Mostly walking.

In addition to the formal exhibit space, there are conference spaces, auditoriums for keynote speeches, meeting spaces, and MUCH more throughout CES.

At last count, there are 4,545 total exhibitors. More on these below.

407 conference sessions are on the schedule, with multiple sessions going on at most times. That means we couldn’t cover them all if we wanted. Most of them will have long lines and will fill to capacity, with many would-be attendees unable to get inside the meeting room to listen.

Yes, just thinking about all this gives me a headache!

In addition to those numbers, we have already received hundreds of emails from exhibitors seeking to set up interviews, demonstrations, and booth visits so we get their story and share it with you.

Still, we have looked forward to it each year. There must be something great there to overcome the headaches, crowds, sore feet, and more — right?? Not to mention going back to the room at the end of the day and writing up an article to provide you the latest info.

It’s worth it to us to stay on top of the innovations coming for family caregivers and seniors — and to bring them to you.

Thinking Behind our CES 2019 Plan

After pouring through the schedule and exhibitor list, we have put together our tentative schedule for CES 2019. We call it tentative because something always happens to change plans once we get into it and it always seems we encounter companies and people we decide must be fit into the schedule.

We decided to prioritize exhibits over conference sessions, press events, and even one-on-one meetings this year. All those things are beneficial, but the heart and soul of CES is on the exhibit floor and we have not yet been able to take the time we wanted with the vast array of exhibits.

Our objective is to visit each booth, as we never know what we will find, but have marked some key exhibitors, those with tech we think will be of greatest interest and benefit to family caregivers.

The biggest change from our schedule in prior years is a reduction in the number of conference sessions we are targeting. I say “targeting” because we realize we are unlikely to get into all we would like to see due to space limitations.

In past years we have found the least value in conference sessions that have so many speakers that none get to cover a topic in enough depth to give us much more than soundbites. Once each speakers gets an introduction, there really is not much time left for the moderator’s questions, much less interaction with the audience.

For example, one of our favorite conference tracks in the past has been the Digital Health Summit. This year, however, their schedule includes an 80-minute session with 9 speakers, a 90-minute session with 10 speakers, and a 115-minute session with 15 speakers. Those sessions should be good for some tweets, but we don’t expect the speakers to have time to provide the kind of meaty content we want to give you.

Conference Schedule Highlights

After reading and rereading the conference schedule over the last several weeks, we are particularly targeting these sessions for coverage.

  • Independent Living: Serving Consumers at Home — This session, part of Connections Summit, has a title that explains why it is important to us. Yes, this is another with a full panel of speakers in a short time, but we still expect to get some great insights and maybe catch a couple of the speakers for a few minutes afterward.
  • Creating Tomorrow’s Robotic Caregivers — Both this session and the conference track of which it is part, Service Robotics Arrive in Daily Life, have titles that make clear why they are of great interest to us. We are really looking forward to learning more about the support family caregivers can hope to get from robotic caregivers.
  • Three sessions in what looks to be a great conference track, Disruptive Innovations in Health Care, which is being presented by the Consumer Technology Association and American Heart Association.
    • What’s Hot in Health at CES 2019
    • Digital Therapeutics: Empowering People and Revolutionizing Treatment
    • Telehealth and the Uberization of Health Care
  • Consumer Data: Rewriting the Rules of Engagement for Health — This session, from the Digital Health Summit, will delve into what the health care industry can learn from more consumer-oriented businesses when it comes to being health care providers.

These are not the only conference sessions that interest us, nor do we think we will get into all of them. We will let you know what we learn from those we are able to attend.

Watch for Our CES 2019 Updates

We will be updating you on CES 2019 from the beginning of Media Days through the week and beyond.

We will be posting on Facebook, Twitter, and here at Senior Care Corner to keep you up on the latest.

In the meantime, please let us know if there are specific topics you would like us to investigate and report the results most closely.

Give Grandma the Gift of (Safe) Social Media This Christmas

The signs are hard to miss, even though they are showing up even earlier this year: stores of all kinds displaying holiday decorations, holiday sales ads on TV, and Santa taking children’s wishes in many malls.

Yes, it’s time again to wrack our brains on that annual question: “what do we give our grandparents and parents for Christmas” this year?

We try so hard to come up with something that is both appreciated by them (yes, they say everything we give them is appreciated, but…) and useful to them — and usually end up feeling like we have fallen short.

Senior Care Corner® suggests giving the Gift of Social Media this year.

The Gift of Social Media for Grandma (or Grandpa, Mom, or Dad) is one of those rare gifts that truly keeps on giving year-round to both the recipients and givers of the gift.

We have seen recent studies indicating as many as half of seniors use social networking sites, the most with Facebook and YouTube, which still leaves a lot more candidates. Even among that half, though, it is likely many are worried about using social media due to security breaches, when safe practices can reassure them.

Why Social Media as a Gift?

As we have discussed in prior posts, there are many benefits to seniors of being active on social networks, whether Facebook (by far the most accessed), YouTube, Instagram, or one of many others.

  • Keeping families close, making it possible for many seniors to chat and keep up with their children, grandchildren, siblings, and extended family.
  • Photo and video sharing, with social networks making it quicker and easier than ever to share pictures and movies with loved ones and friends.
  • Community Belonging, giving seniors the ability to socialize and stay abreast of current events from the comfort of home.
  • Peace of Mind, keeping the growing number of seniors preferring or needing to live in their homes a convenient way to check-in regularly with loved ones and healthcare providers.
  • Coupons and other Discounts, linking seniors to the online offerings of retailers and service providers.
  • Brain and memory exercise, helping to keep seniors’ brains young.

Helping loved ones understand the benefits they can expect is likely to encourage the effort needed to create a social networking habit.

Social Media Safety is Crucial

Safe use of social media sites has always been important, but never more so than today, with all the stories we hear of breaches and the fear it has created in many users.

There are a number of keys to helping senior loved ones use social networking sites safely — and feel safe doing so.

  1. Establish safe passwords that can’t be guessed from information about your senior that is publicly available. You may suggest they give a couple of trusted individuals their password so it can be retrieved easily if forgotten. Help them change it periodically as well.
  2. Provide the social networking sites the minimum personal information needed in order to use the site. When the seemingly inevitable data breach occurs, the less information included the better.
  3. Limit access to posts appropriately. Utilize the social network’s settings to ensure information posted is only seen by desired audiences.
  4. Post with caution on the sites. Don’t include such things as personal information that may be used to steal an identity, private health information, provide financial data, or divulge when nobody is going to be home at your senior’s house.
  5. Click with caution, avoiding any links in social media posts (just as with email) that are not absolutely trusted and do not respond to requests for information unless certain they are from a trusted friend or family member. A bank, insurance company, or the IRS will not request private information through social media posts.

Remember, social media safety is not a “set it and forget it” act, but a continuing process. It must be practiced each day and even updated as social network settings change, which they seem to do all too frequently.

Giving the Gift of Social Media

Giving the Gift of Social Media is more than signing up your senior loved ones for Facebook or showing them how to access YouTube videos and can be part of a truly memorable family experience.

  • Arranging online access, where needed, often through cable TV or home phone companies or a cell phone provider.
  • Choosing the right device(s) for your loved one. Popular options include computers, tablets and smartphones. Some devices are targeted to seniors and their specific needs.
  • Setting up access to desired social networks. It might be beneficial to survey family members and check around with your senior’s outside interests to see which networks would be most valuable.
  • Establishing privacy settings and practices (very important!).
  • Communicating with loved ones on a regular basis to form and keep the habit, not to mention staying close to them.

The Gift of Social Media is truly a gift for the entire family.

We hope you’ll join us in promoting the Gift of Social Media and consider giving the gift to the senior loved ones in your life!

 

 




Robotic Assistants for Dementia Family Caregivers — Here Now!

There have been many technological innovations that help family caregivers as they care for older adults.

Do we always love — or even use — them when we get them? Nope!

When it comes to older adults, the population is quickly becoming larger than the number of those available to care for them. Many family caregivers can’t stop working, for financial reasons, to become full-time caregivers, have other immediate family needs raising their children, or live at a great distance away all, any of which may prevent them from being full-time caregivers.

What about the number of seniors who have no family members, never had children, or have outlived their family members? What can they do to get their aging needs met?

This is a prime reason that technology to fill the gaps of caregiving is here to stay and will only continue to increase in breath and scope of devices and innovations.

Non-traditional solutions need to be embraced by caregivers and older adults, as well as made useable and practical by tech companies.

Many seniors have been slow to adopt new technology and many caregivers have stalled getting technology in place because they feel overwhelmed and undereducated about what is best for their senior loved one. Both of those must be overcome for caregivers and seniors to get the benefits of technology.

Smart home technology, voice activated assistants, and remote medical monitoring are all at the forefront in technology becoming part of daily life for our seniors.

Are we giving due consideration to robotics and the promise of great things to help manage chronic disease, reduce loneliness and improve the well-being of people living with dementia?

Dementia Decline Impacted by Robot Interaction

A new project has been focused on the effects that robots can have on the decline associated with dementia’s progress.

Advanced Brain Monitoring Inc (ABM) has introduced a robot companion that will interact with a person with dementia to determine if it can mitigate cognitive decline. ABM has received a grant from the National Institute on Aging at the NIH to carry out this study using socially assistive robot interventions. You can read more about it in this article.

Caregivers have been searching for strategies to meet the needs of their older loved ones and keep them mentally stimulated and engaged.

ABM used a socially assistive robot named Mabu from Catalia Health to interact with people with dementia in their own homes. The ABM team states, “We foresee the potential for the robot intervention to be used alone or in combination with other treatments for dementia.”

Mabu will ask questions, get answers, and give reminders as desired. It can be voice activated or directed using a touchscreen tablet. Daily conversations of only a few minutes at a time are individualized to the person and their needs. Although not mobile, the head and eyes move to interact with the person and follows their face to engage.

Change in Chronic Disease Needs Technology Solutions

Seniors today typically suffer from chronic diseases instead of an acute medical diagnosis that ends in their quick demise, as it did in the last century. The struggle then becomes managing chronic disease (and often more than one at a time) for optimal aging and independence that will allow aging in place.

Unfortunately, with the growth in the older population combined with the decline in number of people who can be caregivers to this population of elders, family caregivers will need to depend more on innovative technology to face health and aging challenges.

Success of technology to improve the life of our older adults will require engagement with this technology. That will mean, in a sense, having a relationship with our tech devices and staying engaged over time without abandoning it.

Clearly, if our seniors stop using a device, there is no benefit.

What if there was a technology that was engaging, effective, and acted as a companion that would become meaningful enough to achieve results of engagement that leads to true disease management and medication administration?

Technology such as this could keep a senior connected over a long period of time instead of being discarded. One that becomes almost a buddy.

Cost Versus Benefit of Technology Interventions

Many seniors who have begun needing additional care, but want to remain at home, need a helping hand.

Particularly for those older adults who live alone, a companion robot that interacts on a daily (even more than once a day) basis and is there to confirm they are following their treatment plan is very important to not only their medical status and quality of life, but also for the senior’s mental health to reduce loneliness.

Loneliness, which affects as many as one third of our seniors, has been shown to be a predictor of poor health.

The cost of most of this new technology rivals that of once a week in-home care. While the cost of care will likely rise over time due to supply and demand impacts, the cost of technology typically declines.

UBTECH Lynx (at Amazon)

Cost reductions in avoiding a medical crisis or hospitalization, home safety interventions, proper medication management, reduction in depression and loneliness, and the time given back to family caregivers far outweigh over the long-term other costs of facility or even routine home care.

Digital companions who interact with seniors and the healthcare team can help avoid health crises that lead to hospitalizations. It can also reduce the number of in-home visits needed when chronic diseases are monitored more closely and routinely using digital companions. Non-adherence to the treatment plan is a real barrier to health for many seniors.

Robots on the market and coming to market soon are not intended to take the place of in-home caregivers but to supplement the care they provide based on each senior’s situation.

It is important to note that many of these social robotic companions do not store health data. Any information relayed to a healthcare provider is encrypted, HIPPA compliant and secure.

Technology to Defeat Dementia

Robotics are being used with people with dementia in order to get their attention, engage them with companionship and stimulate them.

There are several of these robots either on the market in specific sectors or available to the consumer including MABU, ElliQ, CareCoach GeriJoy, Buddy, Paro the seal, and Hasbro’s Joy for All pets.

Robotic pets cost in the $100 range and are easily accessible. One of these would be a great gift for many seniors!

The sad truth is the level of frustration and anger family caregivers have when caring for elders in the advanced stages of dementia who ask repetitive questions and need constant redirection at tasks. It is human nature to react when someone asks 15 times in a row what time it is.

Robot companions, however, don’t react with judgment or frustration and are able to maintain a constant tone of voice. This interaction may help avoid conflict which could escalate behaviors in the person with dementia. A robotic companion can relieve a daily caregiver when seniors need constant conversation.

Robotics Doesn’t Replace but Enhance Caregiving

Many caregivers will balk at the thought of machines taking over the caregiving role and replacing the human touch.

This has never been the intention.

Everyone we have seen and heard in the field of robotic research and those implementing digital companions with seniors agree that a human caregiver is essential. Robots are to be used to enhance the experience of aging and augment the capabilities of busy caregivers not replace it.

You are the most important caregiver for your senior loved one, but you need help.

Socially assistive companion robots could help you improve the quality of life for your senior while helping you be able to continue to be a strong caregiver!

 

Cyber Attack Prevention for Personal Medical Devices and Data – Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Protecting our senior’s digital footprint has been a growing concern for many family caregivers.

Lately a new menace has emerged which can be life-threatening for seniors (and caregivers) – cyber attacks of medical identity and the very medical devices that, in some instances, keep our seniors alive.

We recently discussed cyber security with a former U.S. Secret Service deputy director, who stated that identity threat should not be our primary concern anymore. He stated medical data breaches were more dangerous, cyber criminals stealing your health records. A social security number will sell on the dark web for 50 cents, but your medical record can be sold for $50, so is much more desirable by criminals.

The statistics are frightening. A medical data theft will occur at healthcare systems, though they are currently working hard to protect your data. In a recent survey, 91% of the healthcare organizations surveyed had one data breach during the past two years, 39% experienced two to five breaches, and 40% had more than five.

No Alerts for Stolen or Altered Health Data

Unlike an identity theft, no bank or credit card will alert you when your data has been stolen. Seniors will only uncover this particular theft when an emergency strikes and they need medical care, only to discover that their health data has been altered without their knowledge.

How will they know this? It could be only at the worst possible time, such as when your senior gets an emergency blood transfusion with the wrong blood type, is given a medication to which they are allergic, or are not resuscitated when they wanted everything done, because some criminal has stolen their health identity to get drugs illegally and changed your senior’s data to suit their needs.

Unfortunately, one of these or many other potential situations could be life threatening if the wrong treatment — or no treatment — is given based on bogus information in your senior’s medical record.

Blockchain technology put in place by healthcare systems may be the best way to counteract health data breaches but that is still in the future.

Another threat is hacking of their medical devices, especially those intended to keep them alive such as pacemakers or continuous delivery insulin pumps. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working with manufacturers to prevent criminals from easily breaching medical devices, with the help of researchers who have already found loopholes which allowed hacking.

While no specific incident of medical device hacking injuring a person has been reported, one FDA official has said that any internet connected device is capable of being hacked and security measures must be implemented to protect consumers.

What can seniors and family caregivers do to protect them from becoming victims of this harmful type of cyber crime?

FDA’s Advice to Mitigate Cybersecurity Risk

The FDA has these warnings to consumers and tips to help us all lessen the risk of criminals hacking our medical devices.

  1. Don’t just turn on a connected medical device and use it without reading the instructions carefully. Make note of how the device looks in normal operation, such as indicator lights or readouts, and when it is not working as intended. Keep the instructions handy or bookmark them in your browser for quick reference.
  2. Be sure any medical device has been fully updated (firmware, operating system, or software) and continues to receive new updates, which can protect it from cyber attacks. Contact the physician who has prescribed or implanted devices for more information about needed updates.
  3. Be aware of firmware updates with security patches and watch for premature battery depletion, which could signal unusual activity levels and indicate malfunction/hacking.
  4. If your senior has any medical devices, don’t neglect routine care and follow-up healthcare appointments to check the effectiveness and safety of the devices to ensure proper functioning.
  5. Seek medical care immediately for any symptoms of dizziness, chest pain, or loss of consciousness.
  6. Do not ignore device alerts.
  7. If using specific types of insulin pumps, deactivate the remote bolus options which could allow hackers in close proximity to override the pump options and control insulin delivery. This was not a factory default, meaning it was added by the user. FDA warns to deactivate this option for added security.

Medical devices are life saving for many seniors but malicious activity could cause them to turn on the very people we want them to protect.

Family caregivers can protect their loved ones’ safety while using these devices. It takes a little diligence and regular updating, but shouldn’t be too difficult compared to the benefits.

 

 




 

Covering the Global Stage for Innovation — CES 2019 Preview

Technology innovation for independent-living older adults and their family caregivers has come a long way!

Like the rest of tech, it also has a long way to go before the full potential is realized (if there is ANY limit to the possibilities).

Senior Care Corner® has been covering CES®, the largest and most influential technology event, since our first visit in 2011. At that time, there were a relative few companies, mostly small startups, working on devices for older adults as a founding mission.

We had to use our imaginations to envision the potential benefits for older adults and their family caregivers from innovations designed and marketed for younger people.

Since then, the talk at CES has gone from trying to convince most tech companies seniors will actually use technology to companies big and small touting the benefits of their offerings to seniors.

Of course, in the interim it was ‘discovered’ that the senior market is huge and growing fast. That and older adults demonstrated, with the adoption of smartphones by many, they are willing to consider beneficial innovations.

CES Conference Sessions of Interest

Each year since 2011 there have been more and more conference sessions with information of interest to older adults and their family caregivers. Even though the conference schedule is still a work in progress, we are finding many with great information.

These are just a sampling of the most promising sessions from the schedule so far.

  • Service Robots in Daily Life — The discussion of robotics has gone from industrial robots to those that will interact with us in our daily lives. Sessions will discuss robots that will do household chores, others that will cook for us, and robotic caregivers.
  • Connections Summit — This summit looks at strategies to meet the challenges of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart homes. It will have sessions that discuss voice control of home technologies, in-home tech support, and independent living. We are particularly looking forward to that last session, which will look at smart home solutions that deliver life- and cost-saving health solutions at home.
  • Digital Health Summit — The importance of healthcare to older adults – all of us, really – means the Digital Health Summit is always one of the most important places to be at CES. Highlights this year include eradicating chronic illness, Alzheimer’s Disease, and the technologies that will power the future of healthcare.

Add to these conference tracks on wearable technology, the future of transportation, artificial intelligence, and more, our biggest technology need during CES would be one with which we could clone ourselves to cover everything that is important to you.

CES 2019 Exhibitors

As valuable as we find the conference sessions at CES, the heart and soul of the event is the exhibit floor. Floors, actually, as once again CES exhibits will cover floors in several venues, with enough walking required to get in weeks worth of steps for those who are counting.

In addition to technologies that were only being imagined when we started covering CES, there are also several exhibitor categories that weren’t on the map then.

These are some of the categories that will have tech of greatest interest to seniors and family caregivers, along with the number of exhibitors signed up for each one (many appear in the numbers for multiple categories).

  • Accessibility (69)
  • Digital Health (279)
  • Robotics (189)
  • Smart Home (655)
  • Cyber Security and Privacy (69)
  • Wearables (380)

This sampling should give you a hint that we have a lot of walking ahead of us, once again, during CES. All well worth it, of course, as we always seem to find a few exhibits that are pleasant surprises and look forward to reporting back to you on what we find.

Much More to Come

This is but the first of many articles we will write as part of our coverage of CES 2019. As the event nears, we will provide updates on the program and our plans.

One of the most important aspects of CES each year is the people we meet there, some of whom provide great background information for our articles and others who we interview for our podcasts.

Given how busy everyone is at CES, especially conference speakers, some of our best CES interviews don’t take place there but afterward, when everyone is back home.

Please let us know if there is anything or any company specifically you would like to see us cover and we will work to get it on our schedule.

Stay tuned for more of our coverage of CES 2019.

 

 




Holiday Online Shopping Safety — Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Black Friday, the once biggest shopping day in our history which falls on the day after Thanksgiving has been outpaced by Cyber Monday.

Buying online on the Monday after Thanksgiving has become the largest shopping day and it all happens with the use of technology. For some it means shopping on the computer while others will use their smartphones. As a matter of fact, 80% of adults will buy something online with 30% occurring on our mobile devices!

No matter which way you (or your senior loved one) choose to shop for the best holiday deals you can find, security when you are surfing the net should be a number one priority.

What We Do and Buy Online

Many people not only compare products looking for the best prices and features, but also read reviews before buying and even look online standing in the store to see if there is a better deal elsewhere.

This means that we are engaging online for a fair amount of time visiting many different shopping sites and apps which could set us up for security breaches.

According to a Pew Research study, not only are we using technology to buy things, we are buying more technology online too!

We are buying gaming systems, tablets, phones, laptops, appliances, cameras, and the latest Internet of Things (IoT) devices for our increasingly smarter homes online through our technology.

Protecting Online Buying

The experts remind us as we approach the holiday buying season that everything we own or buy that is connected to the internet is at risk for cyber threats, scams, and identity theft.

Older adults who are new to technology or trying a new device should be encouraged by caregivers to learn about cyber hygiene to help protect themselves from people who want to steal something from them not just when they shop but all the time.

While it is important to learn about security, however, it’s important not to throw gasoline on the fire of any existing conceptions of online safety — or lack of it.

Hackers and criminals go on the prowl during the holidays so we should all be on our guard as we shop this season.

Here are some tips from the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to keep you and your senior safer online this holiday and all year long:

  1. Before you shop, be sure your connected device is free of malware by running a scan and updating your apps.
  2. Before you buy, update your passwords and logins to be sure they have double authentication and the strongest passwords you can make.
  3. Learn about the website before you buy. Check out other people’s experiences with reviews to be sure you will not be disappointed or scammed with a purchase.
  4. Avoid links in your social media platforms as cyber criminals can steal your information and infect your devices when you click these links.
  5. Don’t give vendors more information than they need for the transaction. Don’t give more info than the fields they request including passwords, Social Security numbers and other secure information.
  6. Don’t use free WiFi hotspots to buy products as your passwords and information is not secure there. Logging in and using passwords can be exposed. Limit access to your own device whenever using these hotspots.
  7. Don’t fall for online deals that look too good be true — because they probably aren’t. Often you won’t get the product or it will not be what you thought you were getting when you buy from a ‘dealer’ instead of a reputable online retailer.
  8. Be alert to phishing emails that warn you a package you ordered can’t be delivered unless you pay or click on a link. Don’t fall for it!
  9. If you are registering a new account, set up new and unique passwords. 68% of seniors (and many of those who are younger) use the same password for all accounts!
  10. Don’t fall victim to a giving holiday-season heart when the scammers look for donations. Charity scams will prey on your senior’s emotions so check to see if it is legitimate before you give them your savings.
  11. Be wary of emails that say your credit card or bank account has a problem that requires you to divulge personal information, passwords, click a link or pay money. We have gotten them from a bank, credit card, ‘Google Team’, Facebook friends and delivery services which were all fake emails.
  12. When shopping in a store, disable your Bluetooth and WiFi settings on your devices so the stores can’t track your movement.

Here’s a fun quiz you can do with your senior to test your skills spotting online scams. It was created by Home Instead Senior Care in partnership with NCSA.

The old adages have truth for us today: Buyer beware and better safe than sorry!

We hope you use some of these tips to enjoy safe holiday shopping!

 

 




Cybersecurity for Your Senior’s Connected Life, Health, and Home

With the evolution and increase in growth of the use of many connected technologies, cybersecurity threats will follow.

Not might, not could, but will. We need to accept that as fact.

The threat is so real that October is set aside as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month by the Department of Homeland Security and this year we celebrate the 15th year of this initiative.

Their stated goal is to bring together government and industry to ensure that consumers have the resources they need to be secure online in the fight against cyber threats.

However, it is important for us to remember that we all have a share in the responsibility of cybersecurity, even if we are simply smartphone users.

Did you know that 10% of all iTunes downloads are for health and medical apps? That involves some of our most sensitive personal data.

We are all in some way dependent on a digital system rife with networks that open our seniors up to cyber risk.

In many cases, family caregivers are the ones who will protect their senior loved ones from risk when using all of their connected devices that bring them so many benefits.

By 2020, the market for connected devices will be 200 billion units.

Perform a Connected Device Survey

The first step toward device security is know which devices in your senior’s home need to be secured.

Most of us realize our computers, tablets, and smartphones are connected to the web and need to be protected, but our other connected devices may not be so obvious to us.

Which devices in your senior’s (or your own) home may be “connected”?

  • Computing devices, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones (yes, these are computing devices)
  • E-book readers
  • Smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home
  • Smart thermostats, such as Ecobee and Nest
  • Fitness trackers
  • Smart watches
  • Health devices that provide data via smartphone apps, such as heart rate and blood pressure monitors, pill organizers, bathroom scales, and more
  • Smart outlets, such as might be used to control lamps and other equipment via app
  • Bluetooth wireless headsets
  • Smart TVs and devices connected to TVs, such as Tivo, Apple TV, and Roku
  • Smart kitchen appliances and laundry equipment
  • Home security and monitoring systems and cameras

…and more, with the number of connected devices for the home growing all the time.

When thinking about the connected computing devices in a home, don’t forget the devices of guests who are allowed to connect to the home’s WiFi service (and even neighbors, if the WiFi is not secured).

How do you determine which devices in the home are connected to the web? Almost all are connected via the home’s WiFi network, cellular network, or via Bluetooth connection to one of the other connected devices, typically a smartphone.

WiFi Routers

Many devices are connected to the web via the WiFi router in the home. A list of these devices can be found on the router’s network map, which can be found by logging into the router via a browser on the device connected to it or the mobile app many new routers provide.

If you don’t know how to do this, it’s a good thing to learn, as the router is a primary hub for keeping all the connected devices in the home secure.

While looking at the router, check to see if there is a firmware update available and, if so, update it when you have a few minutes when connection to the web isn’t needed. Firmware functions like the operating system of your smartphone, playing a big role in the security of your network.

Bluetooth Devices

You can identify the devices connected by Bluetooth to smartphones, tablets, and even computers by checking the Bluetooth settings in the devices.

Those setting will show which devices have “registered” via Bluetooth with the computer device in the past and which, if any, are actively connected.

Once the connected devices in the home are identified, you can set out to ensure they’re secure, or at least as secure as practical.

What Should Caregivers Know About Medical Device Security

Medical devices, just as your senior’s computer or smartphone, are connected devices that are at risk for security breaches.

Did you know many medical devices have an expected lifespan of up to 30 years but the software itself may be obsolete in only 2 to 10 years — and maybe even less?

There are two potential areas of worry when it comes to cyber security with medical devices. One dangerous risk is the failure of the device to work as it was intended and the other danger is the loss of personal information that could be used for ID theft.

The FDA approves most medical devices in use today but only that their benefits outweigh their security risk. This doesn’t mean that there are no risks if a devices is approved. They do not test products for security risk but leave that voluntarily to the manufacturer. They are more concerned with the efficacious functioning of the device to do as it is intended such as pump your heart, register your blood sugar or administer IV medications.

Experts believe that only 51% of manufacturers are following the FDA guidelines for risk mitigation.

The problem with vulnerable connected health devices is that their breaches can result in potentially harmful failures of the safety and effectiveness of the very devices our seniors need to manage and treat chronic health conditions.

When the medical devices are connected to healthcare systems for monitoring, it is incumbent upon the healthcare system to put in place security measures to prevent cyber security issues from occurring on their network especially when securing your senior’s personal data.

Malware is considered one of the most serious threats to medical devices at this time. A device that has been infected with malware could malfunction, giving inaccurate data that could cause a harmful situation for your senior’s health.

Security experts say hacking of medical devices seems to be less of a concern currently.

The most vulnerable area in cyber security for a medical device is the user authentication, according to industry experts. This is where the hacker enters the picture.

Hackers are known for draining the battery of medical devices, which could lead to failure, especially in pacemakers and wearables. Experts encourage users to set up passwords on these devices and don’t keep the initial defaults established with the device’s use to block authentication troubles and hacking.

These devices also need their firmware updated regularly and potential security upgrades patched in when necessary. When you and your senior are prompted to do so, be sure to update the software.

Steps for Caregivers to Secure Seniors’ Tech

Caregivers, once they understand the risks that are inherent with connected devices, especially for health, can take steps to protect the security of their senior’s (and their own) devices.

Here are some things you both should be doing to stay safe and avoid becoming a victim of cyber criminals:

  1. Lock your devices, including phone and tablets, to keep prying eyes out and criminals away.
  2. Install malware protection apps or software to do all you can to keep your connected devices ‘clean’ and more secure.
  3. Conduct regular scans on your internet connected devices to check for viruses or spyware and keep your software up to date (don’t ignore the update alerts on your computer, tablet, or smartphone).
  4. If you use USB external devices, scan those for viruses and malware too.
  5. Use strong passwords that aren’t easy for others to guess. Remember, criminals look at your social media and know your pet’s name and your birthdate! Write them down in a safe place away from the device. Better yet, use a secure password vault-type app.
  6. Be sure you are using the latest biometrics and two-part authentication systems to further strengthen your security for all connected devices.
  7. Clean out any unused apps and ensure the ones you keep have been regularly updated, along with your smartphone operating system.
  8. Try not to use public WiFi at all, opting instead to use cellular data. Yes, it may be more expensive but can save you a great deal in security. If you must, use extreme caution if you link with free wireless hotspots where your connection can be easily compromised and your personal information taken or spyware implanted.
  9. Don’t open emailed documents or links or text message links from people, even those you know or think you know like a bank, IRS, or package delivery company (they often aren’t real!) unless you are expecting that specific person to send you the document or link
  10. Have you cleaned out digital files on your computer lately? Are there things on there you no longer need but could divulge personal information to someone untrustworthy if you lose the device or it is stolen? Time to declutter the desktop, laptop or smartphone.
  11. Before you toss out any digital device (USBs, external hard drives, flash memory, wearables and even printers), ensure you know that they have been “shredded” correctly to remove any traces of your personal information. This is important for all devices not just computers and phones.
  12. Empty your trash file regularly but also use a program that will permanently wipe your data off your device making it irretrievable.
  13. Keep all IoT smart home connected devices – such as thermostats, toys and home assistants – up to date with the latest firmware and any available security software.
  14. The internet is still in ink so be careful about the information that is posted on social media platforms which could compromise your cyber security in the future.
  15. Secure your home WiFi Router with a strong password to keep unwelcome visitors out.
  16. Disable Bluetooth and WiFi when out of the house since some places track your movements on your devices when you are within range.

The only way to be fully secure is not to connect your device to the web — or maybe even to avoid turning it on. From a practical standpoint, though, in this age of technology, it has become almost impossible to not be connected.

All the wonderful benefits your senior can get from using innovative technology for health, safety, and aging in place independence bring with them risks associated with being connected to the web. We can help our loved ones minimize those risks and use their devices safely and securely.

Many of our senior loved ones won’t use connected devices if they live in fear the devices are not safe.

That puts it in our hands as family caregivers to address that fear and, hopefully, put it to rest.

 

 




Free Rides for Seniors Can Lead to Improved Quality of Life

We all know the importance of getting where you want to go when you want (and need) to go to our sense of independence and freedom.

Imagine if you are an older adult trying to get to the doctor or pharmacy to get essential prescription medications but you can’t get there.

For our senior loved ones, it isn’t that same as a joy ride in the country to view the fall leaves or going to the ice cream shop for an ice-cold treat. It’s your life and health.

Accessible transportation – or the lack thereof – is important to seniors’ ability to successfully age in place.

Depending on others for a ride when they need it, including family caregivers or senior transportation that can be undependable, isn’t a perfect solution for many seniors. In some instances, paying for transportation to get basic needs met is out of reach for many older adults.

What is the solution?

For many seniors, ridesharing companies that have spread like wildfire across the nation can help them do what needs to be done and more.

Impact of Ridesharing

It is estimated that in 2015, 54% of seniors had difficulty accessing transportation, even in cities such as New York with wide ranging public transportation systems. In fact, 40% of rural people (37 million) living in 1,200 counties across the nation have no public transportation.

It is amazing to learn that as many as 20% of seniors (nearly 7 million people) over 65 don’t drive at all.

One solution to this problem is exploring how ridesharing can fill the void providing seniors with dependable transportation.

A study by AARP found that 20% of seniors over 75 use ridesharing and 40% of those over 85 do as well.

In collaboration with United Healthcare, the AARP Foundation gave a $1 million grant to Keck Medicine of USC to test the impact of providing free Lyft rides on the health of elderly USC patients within the greater Los Angeles area.

Researchers showed how unlimited free Lyft rides (ridesharing) can improve seniors’ quality of life by 90%. The research was part of a pilot program between Lyft and the University of Southern California Center for Body Computing, which studied and connected senior citizens with this form of transportation.

Seniors in the study were tracked using a wearable device to determine their behavior. They used a smartphone app or were able to call for a ride. All the seniors had transportation barriers and lived alone.

Benefits to Seniors Demonstrated

Given unlimited free access for three months, the older adults averaged taking a ride daily. They showed an increase of 35% in out of the home activity over the time studied. Not only did they go to medical appointments but began socializing, visiting friends and engaging in the community. 74% reported an increase in social visits.

An added bonus, 97% of the respondents reported getting more comfortable with the technology, actually ‘embracing’ it, and were using smartphones with apps at the end of the study.

The cost of the rides averaged about $400 per month, which is more than many seniors could afford, according to researchers. Lyft promises more partnerships to meet the needs of elders and to determine how best to meet these needs economically.

It’s true that millions of older adults miss their scheduled doctor appointments due to lack of transportation according to these researchers. But, more importantly, the lack of independence and mobility to move around their communities for any reason inhibits a senior’s quality of life.

Socialization is a key determinant of successful aging in place. Staying home and not interacting with others because of inaccessible transportation can negatively impact seniors’ lives.

Obstacles and Solutions for Seniors to Hail a Rideshare

Many seniors struggle to connect with ridesharing companies because they are unable, untrained, or unwilling to use an app to call for a ride.

Some seniors, especially rural ones, may not have broadband service or a smartphone yet.

Others may not be comfortable using an app or remember how to do it. Some seniors still shy away from this technology in case they should ‘break’ it. Others are fearful of security breaches with an app like this.

It is up to family caregivers to help facilitate this process and help senior loved ones get connected with ridesharing.

Older adults don’t have to use a smartphone to call a ride. Both the major ridesharing companies can be called using a computer instead of a smartphone app. Family caregivers can set up a computer to be used to get a ride, show the senior how to do it, and establish an account for them.

Lyft Concierge has made it possible to get a ride using the telephone, with no need for a smartphone or a computer. They have partnered with  community-based companies to provide rides. For many seniors, picking up the phone and making a call to get a ride may give them more confidence than using an app or the computer. These rides can be on demand or scheduled for appointments.

Caregivers near or far can also call to set up rides for their senior loved ones using this program. Payment is made via credit card so no money is required.

Ridesharing Changes Lives

Ridesharing companies are working together with senior living communities to make ridesharing more accessible for seniors. If your older adult is in a facility, you may want to discuss connecting your senior with this service.

Helping seniors remain as independent as possible and engaged in the community by focusing efforts on obtaining adequate transportation services unquestionably will improve the quality of their aging in place experience.

This will ultimately benefit family caregivers too!